Review: Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection

I am a child of the 80’s. I cut my gaming teeth on the NES back in 1985, and haven’t stopped since. It wasn’t until the 90’s however, when my gaming addiction kicked into overdrive, and that began with the Sega Genesis, which released in the United States in 1989. I was 10 years old. This collection is like nostalgia injected straight into my veins.

Sega, in a bout of inspiritation, decided to compile a collection of 49 of some of their most classic, memorable games of that era (40 available at the start, and 9 unlockable titles from the Arcade or Sega Master System). From Altered Beast, to Phantasty Star, to Shining in the Darkness, to Sonic the Hedgehog and more, Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection is a fantastic, nostalgic trip down memory lane for us old timers, with games from just about every genre (excluding racers and sports titles). Not all of the games in the anthology have retained their sheen, but some have held up remarkably well, and had me pining for the “glory days,” when games were pure, simple fun, and not victim to meta-scores, sales battles, and questionable reviews.

To shed a little more background on the collection, Sega not only packaged a collection of it’s most memorable games, but they also decided to bring those titles into the current generation by upscaling them to HD resolutions. 720p to be exact, but the game will upscale to your TVs resolution (normally, I run at 720p, but lately, I’ve been running on 1080i).

The games look fantastic in HD, and there are video options to adjust things like aspect ratio (you can choose between the original, 4:3 aspect ratio, or, if you have an HDTV, 16:1), and you can also toggle between smoothing the pixels, or leaving them in their original, well, pixelly glory. I found that playing the games in 16:1, with smoothing on resulted in a better looking picture, especially in games like Sonic the Hedgehog, where the pixels where smoothed over and eliminated altogether.

I’m playing the Playstation 3 version, and I have to say it feels very good and responsive, although some of the platformers (like the original Sonic the Hedgehog and Kid Chameleon), can feel a little slippery. I attribute this more to the fact that I haven’t played a solid, true 2D platformer in a long, long time, and it took me a bit to get accustomed to such old school goodness. One of the other wonderful things about the collection is Sega’s decision to implement a State Saving feature, allowing gamers to save anywhere, anytime, and load to that exact spot.

Considering that most old school games were designed to be completed in one sitting, and many of us simply don’t have that amount of time on our hands, this is an incredibly ingenious, welcom feature, and I hope that other collections of this sort do the same.

The game also features some developer interviews that shed some light on the development of these classics, as well as a “Museum” which features some humorous write ups and factoids about each title, as well as images of their original box and cartridge art.

I found this collection enjoyable, nostalgic, and well put together, however, I’m ultimately a bit torn from just outright recommending this collection as a must buy for PS3, 360, and Wii owners.

BUY: If you are an old timer like me, and remember the first time you played Altered Beast or Golden Axe at the arcade. This game is a nostalgic treat, and is sure to whisk you away to more often than not, fond memories of an era long gone.

RENT: If you are a younger gamer that is simply curious about the games of yesteryear. If you enjoy them, then by all means, pick it up, but I think a lot of younger gamers may be turned off by such archaic gameplay mechanics, considering how far the media has evolved in the 20 years since the Sega Genesis was released.

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2 Responses to “Review: Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection”

  1. My bro got this game a week or so ago, and it an awesome compilation. I agree with everything you said. Is it just me, or are the super cheesy old games some of the hardest games ever lol. i was playing vectorman and i was getting my butt handed to me on a golden platter like every minute lol. Still, good times with this game

  2. lol. yeah, a lot of those games are brutal.

    they were designed to last for a long time, since they are, truthfully, very short games.

    it’s been 20 years since the Genesis released, and gaming has become so much easier. you have games that give you regenerative health (ie, most modern FPS titles), generous save and checkpoint systems, and games that literally won’t let you die (ie, the new Prince of Persia)

    even the addition of state saves in this collection doesn’t keep it from kicking your ass regularly.

    i used to own Vectorman on the Genesis, and i couldn’t beat it THEN, let alone NOW, after a few generations of games that are much easier.

    in defense of the newer games, i actually DO like that i can beat them now. so many games from yesteryear have gone uncompleted by me because they were just too damn hard and frustrating.

    i like that i can play through a game from beginning to end, and see the credits.

    i love old school collections like these though. i hope they make another one, because 49 games barely encompasses all of the great Genesis games that came out back then.

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